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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian government admitted on Tuesday that the country is unlikely to meet the main targets of the national sanitation plan of providing drinking water to the entire population by 2023 and sewage system to 93 percent of the country’s residents.

The National Sanitation Secretary of the Ministry of Cities, Paulo Ferreira, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil news
The National Sanitation Secretary of the Ministry of Cities, Paulo Ferreira, spoke about the sanitation situation across Brazil, photo by Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil.

According to the National Sanitation Secretary, Paulo Ferreira, approximately 156.4 million Brazilians living in urban areas have water systems. That number he says is below what it should be because the main responsibility of basic sanitation works infrastructure is of states and municipalities, which sometime use the resources unwisely.

“The government makes available the resources, but in some cases these are not used,” said Ferreira, adding that “the Ministry goes through great lengths to help municipalities so that the resources are invested correctly”.

The problem of sanitation in the country has also caught the eye of the Brazilian Catholic Church. The National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) announced this week that the 2016 Fraternity Campaign theme is ‘Common House, Our Responsibility’.

The Campaign wants to bring awareness to the fact that although Brazil is the seventh largest economy in the world the country still has millions of persons living without basic sanitation services, waste treatment and trash collection. CNBB’s president, Archbishop Sergio da Rocha noted that ‘the lack of basic sanitation’ is one of the factors which has led to the proliferation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, dengue and chikungunya fever.

During a Senate session on Monday to discuss the problem of sanitation in Brazil, the Upper House President, Renan Calheiros said that official data shows that 35 million citizens of the country live without drinking water, one hundred million have no sewage system and almost forty percent of all sewage collected is not treated.

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